News UPDATE: White House Contradicts Local Pastor Ken Hutcherson on His Claim that He Is a U.S. “Special Envoy”; Hutcherson, in Response, Says He Will Provide Video Proof
Ken Hutcherson, the famously anti-gay pastor at Antioch Bible Church, just outside of Seattle, has recently been claiming that he is a newly-minted White House “Special Envoy.”
Hutcherson’s supposed full title, which he claimed was bestowed upon him by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was: Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.
Hutcherson apparently used this title during his recent travels to Latvia, where he complained to the U.S. Embassy there about its alleged monetary support for gay rights groups, and where he also reportedly appeared with Scott Lively, an American who claims gays were responsible for (not victims of) the Holocaust.
This morning I called the White House to confirm Hutcherson’s title. I just received an email from White House Spokeswoman Alyssa J. McLenning, who tells me that Hutcherson was never given any such title. McLenning writes:
The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives did not give Hutcherson the title, “Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.”
I’m still waiting to hear back on whether the White House gave Hutcherson any other titles, and whether it provided any material support for his trip to Latvia. I’m also putting a call in to Hutcherson to see if he can explain why he’s been claiming a title that the White House says he doesn’t have.
UPDATE: I’ve heard back again from McLenning, and she she tells me that the White House did not give Hutcherson any other titles and did not coordinate with Hutcherson on his recent trip to Latvia.
FURTHER UPDATE: I just spoke to Pastor Ken Hutcherson. He tells me that White House spokeswoman Alyssa J. McLenning is wrong, that he does have the title he claimed, and that it comes from a “partnership” he’s established with Jay Hein, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
“You need to talk to Jay Hein,” Hutcherson told me. “He’s the one that I’ve been talking to and the one that we are partnered with.”
Hutcherson claims to have met with Hein at least twice in person about this partnership, once a few months ago in Seattle, and once last month at the White House. I asked Hutcherson what the title and the partnership mean in terms of his work in Latvia. He replied:
“In my meetings, I can represent as being with them [the White House] and having the power I need to get things done.”
‘I came to you representing the White House’, continued Hutcherson.
And a Slog reader emails me to suggest the following:
If Hutch did engage in an “official capacity” in Latvia claiming he was some sort of “special envoy” without approval from the White House (and likely the State Department as well- they get VERY touchy about stuff like that) it could well be a federal crime.
I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t know if it could be a crime or not, but I’m looking into this question.
MORE FROM HUTCHERSON: Hutcherson just called me again. He sounded quite perturbed that he is being cast as, in his words, “a liar,” and he told me that he is rushing to get his hands on video of an interview with Latvian television that he said will prove his claims.
The video, Hutcherson told me, was shot after a Feb. 8 meeting at the White House between himself; Jay Hein, the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives; and Pastor Alexei Ladyaev of Latvia’s New Generation Church.
Hutcherson said this White House meeting was the second of two meetings he had with Hein about his plans in Latvia. The first meeting, according to Hutcherson, took place in Seattle on January 18 during a conference on faith-based initiatives attended by Hein.
“That was when he made his first commitment to me and said it was a done deal,” Hutcherson told me.
I asked Hutcherson what, exactly, was a “done deal” after his Seattle meeting with Hein.
“Our partnership,” Hutcherson told me. He said he requested the first meeting with Hein because, in his words, “I just wanted Faith-Based to give me the power to do what I needed to do.”
And the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives did, according to Hutcherson.
Hutcherson said that in the video from the second meeting (the one held on Feb. 8 in D.C.) the three men—Hutcherson, Hein, and Ladyaev—are standing on the White House lawn answering questions from a Latvian television reporter.
Hutcherson said the video will show that Hein met with him, knew of his new title, and approved of his mission to Latvia. As Hutcherson put it to me:
I’m gonna prove that I had those meetings, I’m gonna prove that I got that title behind me, and I’m gonna show you the video that says I was coming to Latvia and the purpose why.
If this video actually aired on Latvian television, as Hutcherson says it did, I’m guessing there might be a clip of it out there somewhere on the web. If you find it, shoot me an email with a link.